On Tuesday voters in the Newhall School District will have to consider approving a $60 million bond called Measure E.
On the eve of the election Superintendent Marc Winger is optimistic.
“I’m feeling pretty good. We’ve been phone banking for a while and we keep track of the responses we’re getting on phone banking and it’s coming back pretty positive. Positive enough to pass and that’s what we’re concerned about,” said Winger.
Winger and the Newhall School District Governing Board have been asking voters to see Measure E not as a new tax but simply an extension of previous bond Measure K which was passed in 1999.
“People are not going to notice a bump on that line of their property tax bill. It will remain the same. It will simply be paid out for a longer period of time,” said Christy Smith, Governing Board Member of Newhall School District.
Smith explained how the money would be spent.
“Some of the funds will be going into a 10-year technology endowment. So we know that will last 10 years. Well invested. Well spent,” Smith said.
Other projects will be revenue generating.
“For instance, the refurbishment of the Newhall Auditorium allows us to open that venue not only to our school community but to the community at large which becomes a revenue generator for us,” said Smith.
If the bond passes, $3 million would be spent on the Newhall Auditorium to replace the seating, electrical, lighting and all of the things Smith says would be necessary to make it an operating theater.
Currently, The Canyon Theatre Guild has a lease with the district for use of the Newhall Auditorium. Winger says the intent of the contract was to raise funds in order to renovate the auditorium. Bond passage would alter that agreement.
“They haven’t been successful in raising the funds to renovate. So we’re going to have to end that relationship and start into some new relationship that I can’t define it at this point,” said Winger.
“We’ve had a really good working relationship with them and we certainly would welcome working with them in future to see what type of programs and performances they would like to use the theatre for,” Smith said.
“I’m not prescient, but I think it may pass,” said TimBen Boydston, Executive Director of the Canyon Theatre Guild.
If the bond does pass Boydston says it’s unclear how CTG’s relationship with district will continue. He would consider a managerial arrangement or CTG becoming a resident performing company.
“What that picture looks like is up to the district,” Boydston said.
Boydston supports the bond and likes that it was crafted in a way that doesn’t raise taxes, but extends what people are already paying.
Winger says the Newhall Auditorium garners a disproportionate amount of the attention surrounding bond Measure E.
“The auditorium project is a very small little corner of this bond. It gets a lot of attention, but we’re talking about $60 million worth of work elsewhere for portable buildings, leaky roofs and technology and all the things we said we’d build,” said Winger.
According to Smith, bond money spent on improving water and energy use at all ten school sites would provide a cost savings to the district that then allows those resources to be “recaptured” by the general fund.
As Winger explains it, Measure E will free up $600,000 of operation money which would go directly to the classroom.
While Winger and Smith remain optimistic they won’t know for certain until Wednesday morning if Measure E passed.
“Some of us are going to gather together, get online, watch the returns and hope for the best and hope we get over that 55% threshold,” said Smith.
The Measure E bond would be paid off in 2057.
For more information on the Newhall School District facilities plan, click here: